Kevin Durant is reportedly willing to accept less than a max contract next season.
That, ironically, could get very expensive for the Warriors.
Golden State would need to clear cap space to pay Durant his max – the system working as intended to limit spending. But if Durant takes less than his max, the Warriors could operate as an over-the-cap team, sign players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston with Bird Exceptions and spend into the stratosphere.
Just how high could Golden State’s payroll get next season? Let’s make a few assumptions:
- The luxury-tax line is the projected $121 million
- Durant opts out and re-signs for the Non-Bird Exception ($31,848,120 starting salary)
- Stephen Curry re-signs on a designated-veteran-player contract (more than $35 million projected starting salary)
- Iguodala re-signs for a starting salary of $18 million
- Livingston re-signs for a starting salary of $9 million
- Zaza Pachulia re-signs for the full Non-Bird Exception ($3,477,600 starting salary)
- Ian Clark re-signs for the full Early Bird Exception (about $6.5 million projected starting salary)
- David West re-signs for the full Non-Bird Exception ($2,794,382 starting salary)
- JaVale McGee re-signs for the full Non-Bird Exception ($2,540,346 starting salary)
- Golden State keeps its players already under contract (Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, Damian Jones and Patrick McCaw)
- The Warriors use the full taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,192,000 starting salary)
- Golden State rounds out its roster with a minimum-salary player
That’d give the Warriors a payroll of about $155 million and a luxury-tax bill about $106 million – a total of about $261 million.
For perspective, the Cavaliers are in line to spend about $151 million this season, about $127 million on salaries and about $25 million in luxury tax (rounding explains the seemingly incorrect math).
Now, this is obviously a rough projection, and the Warriors won’t be forced to spend so much. Maybe Golden State re-signs Iguodala or Livingston for less or lets one walk. I doubt the Warriors use the full taxpayer mid-level exception, especially if they keep both Iguodala and Livingston. Golden State might also view Clark as more of a luxury than it could afford. Pachulia and McGee could seek more elsewhere and be replaced by minimum-salary players.
But if Durant is taking a discount, it’s not to save Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber money. It’s to help his team win. Durant shouldn’t take less unless the owners commit not to scrimp around the edges – and that could lead to a monstrous payroll.
With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.
There were a couple of good ones, however.
Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.
One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.
The NBA, at the Pacers’ request, is investigating whether the Lakers tampered by making impressible contact with Paul George.
Bob Kravitz of WTHR
In fact, there’s word that other small- and mid-market team officials have reached out to the Pacers and told them, “Good for you. Fight the good fight.”
Small-market teams whine too much about the disadvantages they face, but tampering isn’t really a market-size issue. Remember, under Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers were known as the only team that didn’t tamper.
The Lakers have advantages because George is from the area, and Los Angeles offers immense marketability. That’d be true whether or not they contacted George or his agent before he officially became a free agent.
I understand the desire to take down the big, bad Lakers – especially now that they appear poised to become truly big and bad again. But it’s hard to find a team that can cast a stone at them from anywhere other than a glass house.
The power dynamics within the Clippers are shifting, and the ground apparently hasn’t settled yet.
Doc Rivers has been stripped of his presidency. Jerry West became a consultant. Lawrence Frank now holds the most prestigious title in the front office, and newly hired Michael Winger will report to him. Also falling under Frank in the organizational chart? Trent Redden.
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:
Longtime Cleveland Cavaliers executive Trent Redden will join the LA Clippers’ front-office staff as assistant general manager, league sources said on Monday.
Redden was ousted in Cleveland with David Griffin. He’ll help the Clippers simply by providing another capable executive. They’ve long needed to add front-office employees (and pay for them).
But Redden also exacerbates the issue of Frank’s underlings having far more front-office experience than him. As the Clippers try to establish their new setup, we’ll see whether that creates complications.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr has missed significant time the last two seasons due to complications from back surgery.
Could those issues derail his career?
Kerr, via Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:
“I fully expect to coach all year,” Kerr says in a no-nonsense tone. “That’s my expectation. And for many years to come.”
On the most basic level, it’d be good if Kerr feels well enough to coach. The headaches sound miserable, regardless of his job.
But it’d also be ideal if the NBA didn’t lose one of its best coaches just as he’s getting started. The 51-year-old Kerr might wind up the greatest coach of all time. Obviously that’s a long way off, but he has that potential – health permitting.